MonthOctober 2008

Friday Lulz and Distractions

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

With all the “doom and gloom” brought on by the economic crisis and the intensity of the upcoming election, I figured it was time for some levity. Here’s some links to make you laugh or distract you. (Readers, feel free to add your own in the comments.)

Alternative computer science curriculum

The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (and its two sister books), by Edward Tufte

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig

Concrete Mathematics, by Graham, Knuth and Patashnik

Any book about the theory of architecture, maybe Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi

From everything2 entry on “Careers for Liberal Arts Majors”

Social skills predict future earnings better than cognitive skills, study says

Ten years after graduation, high-school students who had been rated as conscientious and cooperative by their teachers were earning more than classmates who had similar test scores but fewer social skills, said a new University of Illinois study.

The study’s findings challenge the idea that racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic gaps in educational attainment and earnings can be narrowed solely by emphasizing cognitive skills, said Christy Lleras, a University of Illinois assistant professor of human and community development.

“It’s important to note that good schools do more than teach reading, writing, and math. They socialize students and provide the kinds of learning opportunities that help them to become good citizens and to be successful in the labor market,” she said.

Full Story: Science Daily

(via OVO)

Jeff Vail: The Timing of the Financial Crisis & Peak Oil

You can buy a house with a frozen credit market–you just have to save up the cash purchase price first. Novel approach, I realize, but there you have it. Believe it or not, people used to do this fairly frequently.

You can still manufacture complex products. But, rather than getting a loan to buy the capital equipement, materials, and pay the labor, then give it to the customer, get them to pay you, and repay the loan, now you need to 1) get the customer to pay you, or 2) maintain enough cash reserves to carry this cost until payment. This means that either the customer or the producer needs to save up the money for the end product first, rather than pay later. This also has a dramatic impact on business models–the ‘get big first, then figure out how to profit’ model advanced by and others simply doesn’t work. All these changes really shake up the rate of throughput while System B reverts back to System A. […]

The next two or three years of focus, budget, and effort fixing the financial crisis are two or three years where we aren’t using oru rapidly dwindling supply of high net-energy surplus oil and gas to invest in a renewble energy infrastructure or to restructure our economy away from the demand for continual growth. In fact, the short-term drop (or at least fear thereof) in commodity consumption is likely to depress prices enough that there’s no financial incentive to even invest in keeping production steady.

We’re setting ourselves up for the perfect storm. Resurgent global demand for energy will hit just about the time that our energy supplies (especially our net energy supplies) begin to rapidly decline. As I’ve said in jest many times on this blog, the Mayan prophecies about 2012 may not be that far off the mark–at least as far as timing is concerned.

Full Story: Jeff Vail

The darkside of Esozone: Baphomat in the coffee grounds, Rex Church, Satanists, and more…

hecate clyde lewis baphomet

baphomat appears in coffee grounds

Turkish coffee ground divination is one of breakcore goddess Hecate‘s lesser known talents. At Esozone, she read for Clyde Lewis (above right), and Baphomat appeared in the grounds.

More on this, plus Clyde interviewing Rex Church and Freeman at Ground Zero Lounge.

Plus: Here’s the Portland Tribune’s coverage, which focuses mostly on the Satanism angle.

Liquid Comics Banks on Indian Epic With Ramayan 3392 AD Film


“With Hollywood hitting up comic books for blockbusters, a new comics publisher is looking to India for ideas. “The world is increasingly realizing that India is a source for creativity and great ideas, not just a back office to execute them more cheaply,” said Gotham Chopra, part of the management team at Los Angeles-based Liquid Comics.

One of the first projects for the publisher will be bringing its Ramayan 3392 AD (pictured) – a colorful, 21st-century re-imagining of Indian literary epic the Ramayana – to movie theaters. Liquid has teamed up with Mandalay Pictures and 300 producer Mark Canton for the film, which has a planned release date of 2011. Liquid sprang from the ashes of Virgin Comics, a shuttered enterprise from Richard Branson and the Chopra family that was meant to hammer the dense narratives of India and Asia into graphic novels for the American mainstream and beyond. Chopak and other members of the Liquid management team undertook the buyout of Virgin Comics to continue the quest at the new company.

Chopra talked with about Liquid’s birth, a new wave of Indian comics artists and the challenge of bringing an ancient Sanskrit epic to the silver screen.”

(via Wired)

Patrick M. Byrne: “Deep Capture” the Movie

“Hey Friends.Two years ago I began a campaign to expose a massive circle of corruption on Wall Street involving something called ‘naked short selling.’ The financial press, which had previously been quite generous towards me, immediately began devoting a tremendous amount of energy to misrepresenting, dismissing, and downplaying my allegations. It began to seem as though they were taking part in a cover-up, especially given that I simultaneously became persona non gratis on Wall Street, so that the entire discourse about whether or not I was right went forward with precisely one person precluded from taking part: me. The lengths to which this cover-up was prosecuted astonished even me: for example, last year a large conference (‘Value Investors’ Congress’) invited me to speak, but some powerful hedge funds threatened to boycott if I were allowed to tell me side of the story, and the invitation was rescinded.Times are changing, however, and a few weeks ago I was invited to speak to an even bigger conference of hedge funds. I did so, and was finally able to connect the dots for the public.”

(“Deep Capture” the Movie. “Deep Capture”, The (very long) Story)

Why didn’t you come to Esozone?

Thanks again to everyone who came to Esozone. We were pleased with both the quality and quantity of this year’s attendees. But I’d also like to devote attention to those who weren’t at Esozone, with a little poll to find out why:

Take the poll here

Ultraconserved Sequences: The Core Code of DNA?

DNA Spiral

Funny thing about DNA science: when huge breakthroughs get proclaimed, they generally only lead to more questions and collapse into hype upon any serious scrutiny.? Likewise, when baffling new mysteries are announced, they tend to point the way towards a fuller understanding of the DNA cipher. Case in point — this weekend’s headline, Mysterious DNA Found to Survive Eons of Evolution.

The precise term is “ultraconserved sequences,” and as one observer on the RI forum eloquently summarized it, “this mutation-free DNA has shared eveolutionary benefits through out the entire class Mammilia without producing a visible or identifiable shared characteristic.” More meat from the article itself:

…about 500 regions of our DNA have apparently remained intact throughout the history of mammalian evolution, or the past 80 million to 100 million years, basically free of mutations. The researchers call these mystery snippets “ultraconserved regions,” and found that they are about 300 times less likely than other regions of the genome to be lost during the course of mammalian evolution.? “These regions seem to be under intense purifying selection – almost no mutations take hold permanently,” said researcher Gill Bejerano.

Technoccult readers might also be interested in the lucid heresy of Dr. Andras J. Pellionisz, author of the Fractogene website. This new discovery connects quite perfectly with the Pellionisz theory that genes aren’t a sequential list of instructions but rather a fractal and iterative template for organic growth. I would also highly recommend the work of Chris King, who’s been making the same assertion about the fabric of the entire universe.? He recently published a dense but readable 7 page summary of his work, Why the Universe is Fractal, that’s worth printing out and chewing over.

“Eye At The Top of The World” Coming To the Big Screen?

“Pete Takeda’s book An Eye At The Top of The World has reportedly be optioned for a movie, and will be coming to the big screen soon, according to this story over at Producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler have purchased the rights to the true story and intend to make it into a fictional film.

The book, which I reviewed back in May of 2007, deals with a CIA plot back in the 60’s to install a nuclear powered listening device on Nanda Devi in a remote region of India. The device was suppose to watch the burgeoning Chinese nuclear program and watch for test of their atom bombs. After months of extensive training, a climbing team went up the mountain carrying the device, but near the top, bad weather set in, so rather than carrying the heavy device back down the mountain, they elected to lash it to a rock, and return in the spring to complete the mission.

When the team returned several months later, they discovered that an avalanche had swept the device off the mountain, and it was never seen again. Presumably it was deposited thousands of feet below in a glacier. Over time, the area was closed off, and rumors arose that the mountain was radioactive. The nuclear power plant had more than four pounds of plutonium in it, enough to poison everyone on the planet, and the theory is that it was broken open on the glacier, and may be moving towards Ganges River, home to millions of people.”

(via The Adventure Blog)

(Related: “Spies on The Roof of The World” via Damn Interesting. “Brown: Author Talks About ‘Eye on Top of The World’ via Daily Camera. Excerpts from “An Eye at the Top of The World” via Google Books)

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